The Awakening: A Woman’s Fight For Indepence Essay, Research Paper
The Awakening: A Woman’s Fight for Independence Right from the beginning the plot is almost conveniently evident. You find awoman, Edna Pontellier, tired of living her life as a pampered and “owned”wife and mother. She is searching for much more in her life, some sort ofmeaning for her whole existence. She searches for a long time but in the end,the inevitability of her life’s pattern and direction wraps around her,suffocating her. She is overcome with wonder, confusion, and guilt for whatshe believes and what she does to express her beliefs. She finally finds away to beat the “proper” 1890’s lifestyle by committing suicide. During thisstory Edna struggles with three main opposing powers. First, there is thesociety’s opinion of what a woman’s “roles” in life was and how they shouldact, look, and feel. Second, is her independent nature. The last opposingpower she comes across is her undying love for the charming Robert Lebrun. It is the unwritten rule that a woman should marry, have children, and behappy and content with that as their life. Society portrays this to be awoman’s rightful job and duty. A woman should act and look “proper” at alltimes. This is what Edna is fighting against in this novel. She feels that,though many women agree with this “known” rule, it isn’t fair. For six yearsEdna conforms to these ideas by being a “proper” wife and mother, holdingTuesday socials and going to operas, following the same enduring schedule. Itis only after her summer spent at Grand Isle that her “mechanical” lifestylebecomes apparent to her. She sees how much she is unhappy with theexpectations, held by society, of her life and she wishes to erase them andlive her life as she wants. Edna has an independent, almost self centered, nature about her. Her needfor an uncontrolled lifestyle is what leaves her feeling “owned” and wantingto break that label; she fights to do as she wishes. Little by little shebreaks free of society’s’ image, letting her independence shine through. Shecancels her Tuesday socials and helps out around the house doing littlechores. The biggest step she made was her decision to move away from hermansion and into the “pigeon house”, a little cottage around corner. After
this move she was free to explore her new profound freedom and desires. Shesuccumbed to the passion in her heart and had a meaningless affair withArobin, a known heartbreaker. She was in control of this new relationship andshe loved feeling in control. True, she felt nothing beyond lust for the manbut she was able to do as she wished. Her love for Robert Lebrun was truly her biggest obstacle she was toovercome. Every thought and feeling she had sprouted from the love she hadfor him which kept growing long after the brief summer in Grand Isle. Shethought about him always and was in constant yearning for him to return fromhis escapades in Mexico. When he finally did return, his love for Edna wasapparent and he wished to be married to her. Once again she felt trapped, notwishing to become “property” to a man. She just wanted to be with him andlove him without having to give up her independence. When she left to assisther friend in her childbearing, she bid him to stay and wait for her. Alas,when she returned he was gone, in his place was a letter. He stated his lovefor her and his inability to keep interfering with her life and her duties toher husband and children. That was the end of Edna Pontellier. She feelsalone, with no one who would understand to confide into. Rather than beforced to live in such a world of tyranny and succumb once again to themechanical lifestyle she had lived for so long, she chooses death. In death,there are no expectations, no one to impress or be “proper” for, and mostimportantly she has no one to answer to, except herself. It is all these aspects of the plot, in the story, that make it enticing. Itwas so rare for a woman to feel this way back in those days. Edna is truly anadmirable character. Her fight for independence against a social world thatshows no mercy was a courageous task to try and accomplish. She tried hardand even though she failed, it is her strength in which she fought thatcaptured the hearts of the readers. Her struggle and fight in the plot isinspirational and makes a person realize just lucky they are to be able tospeak their minds and do as they wish. It also contains a fresh touch ofreality with its shocking ending, leaving you with the slightest hint ofdoubt, was it all worth it?